Wholesaler's latest entry into the golf space — a Kirkland Signature house brand putter — creates a swift reaction and sends signal that more beyond a putter may be in the works
There’s such a fascination with every move Costco makes in the golf space and the warehouse giant’s latest introduction has created a new level of demand and buzz. The company, under its Kirkland Signature house brand, brought its first golf club to market recently and already it’s unavailable online.
The KS1 putter, modeled after a Ping Anser or Scotty Cameron Newport, is being sold in a few select warehouse locations for $139.99 and was being offered on the company’s website for $149.99, including shipping. The putter features replaceable weights in the sole and a counterweight in the grip and Costco was selling a separate weight kit online only for $39.99.
The putters had been rumored for weeks on golf equipment websites and buyers pounced as soon as they were available. The putters and weight kits both sold out on Costco’s website in just a few days. And the putters are already being offered for sale by individuals on eBay for $225 — or more.
The KS1 was made in China at a manufacturer that makes putters for some other OEMs. The putter might be relatively inexpensive when compared to high-end putters but it’s not cheap. The putter is milled from 303 stainless steel with a milled 303 insert. It features a SuperStroke Countercore Mid-Slim 2.0 grip. The head weight is 345 grams, which is similar to more expensive putters, a telltale sign if material has been skimped.
The topline might be a little thick for some tastes but that’s nitpicking. It has a solid feel and produces a what appears to be a true roll. The downside to the KS1 is that it’s only offered in a 34½-inch length.
Costco is notorious for limiting its stock keeping units (SKUs), offering a number of items but little depth of selection. However, lie angle, loft and length on the putter can easily be changed by an experienced clubfitter for a relatively small cost.
That is, if you can get your hands on one. The KS1 is not the first Kirkland golf item to go flying off the shelves. The company has a history, albeit a little checkered, with its own golf products. The first Kirkland Signature Tour Performance golf ball appeared in 2016 and when testers looked closely, it was found that the ball’s performance was near or equal to that of the top brands. Couple that with Costco’s price of $29.99 — for two dozen — the balls disappeared in a hurry, which gave company officials reason to believe that it could compete with traditional golf brands.
The first Tour Performance — known as the K-Sig — was a four-piece ball with a urethane cover and the complete history of the ball in not entirely known to the public. It was manufactured in Korea by a company that produced balls for TaylorMade.
Urban legend — not confirmed by the company — is that the Korean company had on hand a high number of TaylorMade overruns — either cores or completed balls — and offered them to Costco. Another story is that the same Korean company had its own intellectual property for a ball and offered that one to Costco. According to published reports, the Nassau Quattro ball that is sold in Europe has the same specs as the K-Sig.
But the second iteration of Costco’s golf balls caused massive problems. After some legal wrangling with Titleist in which Titleist challenged Costco’s claims of the K-Sig’s performance and Costco sued, Costco switched manufacturers to a Chinese company.
The construction of the four-piece ball changed and when the new ball — with Performance One on the side stamp — was introduced in 2019, the ball sold out quickly. However, testers and consumers had big problems with the thin urethane cover splitting and separating on impact. Costco recalled the balls and issued a refund to every buyer without asking the buyers to return the product.
At the same time, Costco released a three-piece ball with a thicker urethane cover and it remains on store shelves, also at $29.99 for two dozen. Testing has shown its performance to be considerably below high-end balls, which is probably why golfers have not flocked to it. Published reports say the company plans to update that ball near the end of this year.
While the KS1 is the first Costco brand golf club, it’s not the first club to be sold at the retailer. Costco has sold TaylorMade putters, Cleveland wedges, Adams hybrids and Callaway boxed sets, just to name a few.
And this is likely not to be the last Kirkland Signature golf club. The company is rumored to be bringing a three-wedge set to market later this year with a price point of $99, although Costco officials wouldn’t confirm that.
If and when the wedges appear is likely a function of the putter’s success. And given the early sell-out of the KS1, expect to see them sooner rather than later.
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